Kennewick man has unique piece of Russell Wilson history

Craig Craker Herald staff writerJanuary 31, 2014 

russell wilson ball signature dust devils

R.C. McKinney of Kennewick, left, got the ball from Russell Wilson's first home run with the Dust Devils in 2010. He gave the ball to Wilson, but got a signed one in return, which he gave to Jay Krewson for his 72nd birthday. They also have a baseball card of Wilson, but weren't able to get it signed because Wilson left to pursue football at North Carolina State before the cards were issued. McKinney says he still hopes to get it signed one day.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Jay Krewson is well known at Tri-City Dust Devils games. The season ticket holder's raspy voice often can be heard shouting comments at the umpires manning home plate. The Kennewick man used to wield a bullhorn to discuss calls he didn't like with the men in blue, but officials eventually took it away.

What Krewson is most proud of as a longtime Dust Devils fan, though, is a brand new baseball he was given by Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback.

Wilson gave Krewson the baseball, complete with his autograph and a Scripture passage, in exchange for Wilson's first home run ball.

Wilson is leading the Seahawks to the Super Bowl on Sunday, 31/2 years after playing in Pasco.

R.C. McKinney of Kennewick was outside of Gesa Stadium, tailgating in the parking lot, when Wilson hammered a pitch from Salem-Keizer's Brennan Flick over the right-field wall on July 11, 2010. It was the first home run of Wilson's professional career.

McKinney raced over and grabbed the baseball and eventually gave it to Krewson, who is the father of his girlfriend, Tawnya.

"He handed it to me and I went down and motioned for Russell to come over to the fence and he did," Krewson said. "I told him it was his home run ball. I told him to take it and keep it, and he said he would love to -- that he never would've got his ball back if it wasn't for me.

"He went over and got a brand new ball and autographed it and handed it back to me. I gave it back to R.C., and he later gave it back to me for my 72nd birthday."

The ball says, "Russell Wilson #25" and has "1st Corinthians 13" written underneath his name.

"He definitely wasn't a power-hitting guy," Dust Devils general manager Derrel Ebert said. "I vaguely remember him hitting a home run at home. Home run or not, he certainly didn't turn people down for autographs. Very courteous to everyone."

Krewson said he knew at the time that Wilson was a football star as well as a baseball player, but he had no idea the heights Wilson would reach in the football world.

"I didn't know he was going to go back to football, but I'm glad he did," Krewson said. "I think he'd done just as well in baseball, but there is a lot of competition."

The home run came on a pitch from a right-handed journeyman reliever who is no longer in baseball. The 6-foot Flick lives in Morgan City, La., and owns a company there. He did not return calls for this story.

Wilson hit just two home runs during his summer in Pasco on back-to-back nights at home against Salem-Keizer.

The one that McKinney grabbed was in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and no one on base. Wilson blasted the pitch from Flick deep down the right field line and over the wall -- no easy feat for any player, let alone a right-handed hitter. It was one of four home runs that Flick allowed that season.

Now, Wilson will lead the Seahawks in the Super Bowl at 3:30 p.m. Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

He won't be swinging a bat, but he is surely looking to hit a few "home runs" in terms of touchdowns.

And Klewson plans to be watching every second.

"You betch your sweet patootie on that one," he said. "They are going to win it all."

w Craig Craker: 582-1509; ccraker@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Craig_Craker

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